Archive | April, 2013

Call me a dope

29 Apr

Ok, you are going to think I’m a dope. Last week as I was preparing to speak on Sunday it suddenly dawned on me that the three messages I had written to prepare all of us to hear “what’s next?” from the Lord for Heartsong were just some new ways of saying what we have been saying for a while now.

The three messages were: “What You See”, “Without A Vision” and “Love Does”. “What You See” was about how we need to take on the way of looking at life, the universe and everything (i.e. reality) the way Jesus does. That turns out to be another way of talking about how we “Get it!”. Adopting as our own the plausibility structure of Jesus is another way of saying downloading Jesus. “Without A Vision” was from the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and telling them to do the same for one another. That story took the place of the Last Supper story for John, and I suggested that might well have been because he recognized holy communion (a union of wholeness with the Lord) as experienced through service. Discovering our places of service in each situation with each one day by day by day is another way of saying embracing our heartsong (“Got it!”). We will serve at the call of the Holy Spirit according to our one in a zillion wiring. We will place our unique never before been and never will be again selves at the disposal of others as the Spirit points us in their direction by opportunity, impulse or arrangement. “Love Does” was about-well-love doing. Love cannot be merely a feeling or thought or plan. Love, Jesus style, is not love unless it eventuates in something done, which is another way of singing our heartsong out loud.

I believe the Lord blinded me to those completely evident recastings of the 3G life because if I had tried to prepare us using those categories you would have been sorely tempted to have yawned me off the stage, and I would have pulled all my hair out trying to find a fresh way to express what we have come to know as the basics of following our Lord into life. Get it, got it, go! Download Jesus, Embrace your heartsong, Sing it out loud (“Go!”).

Those are not one time accomplishments. They are major movements in learning who we are by God and how we are meant to spend our lives. There must be a macro downloading of Jesus as we begin to learn who he is. There must be some initial soul searching as we learn more deeply who we are, and we will need to learn the full sweep of the story of God if we are to find our place in it. There must be the early on application of all that as we try our wings in our sphere of influence, and maybe along the way some macro calling to a specific vocation for how to spend the lion’s share of our time, energy, creativity and resources for Christ’s sake. But beyond the macro movements of the 3G life are the micro applications of it.

Downloading Jesus, embracing your heartsong and singing it out loud are how we are called by our Lord and empowered by him to spend our every day with every one in every situation. And to the extent we do that we are ever ready to hear what the Lord has to say to us next. So bottom line: we get ready to hear the Lord by following him into life according to how he has taught us to do it. We live that way we are ever ready.

Some of you will call me a dope for not understanding at the outset that however someone might think about how to get ready to hear “what’s next” from the Lord it will come down to a steady focus on the 3G life. The rest of you will say, “we already call you a dope.”


On not taking one for the team

25 Apr

My heart goes out to all who are feeling the pain in the aftermath of the Boston bombings. It is gut wrenching to see all of the heartache as it continues to spread into the lives of countless people. A particular focus of prayer and love on this day are the parents and family of Sunil Tripathi, whose body was discovered in the Providence River yesterday. Sunil disappeared on March 16, the day after the bombings, and was for a while the focus of fierce online speculation. He was misidentified as the suspect in the picture that turned out to be Dzhokhar Tsaraev.

That misguided witch hunt for someone who was obviously not involved in the bombing, but deeply distressed turns my mind to a painful truth. Among those to whom my heart goes out these days are our sisters and brothers of the Memphis Islamic Center, and all like minded and big hearted people of Islamic faith and heritage.

Again, someone in the name of Islam has committed a horrible atrocity. Again, the eyes of a lot of people in American will look with suspicion at, and hold angry thoughts about those they guess might be Muslim. In order to be exonerated in the courts of popular opinion (social media, some public media outlets and many personal conversations) people of Muslim faith will be expected to take a stand against what was done in the name of their faith, or by their silence be considered to give their tacit approval. They will feel pressure to take one for the team.

I hope they do not. All of the Muslims it has been my joy to come to know, to a person, have absolutely no sympathies toward those who use their faith to spread hatred and violence. The character of their lives is on display everyday in their places of work, in their interactions with their neighbors, in the ways they reach out with love to those in need. Why should they have to take one for a team they do not play on?

When someone claims the name of Jesus and does something hateful and violent I don’t feel any need to distance myself from them by making a public statement. I don’t play on the same team as them, no matter how strongly they claim the name of Jesus. The Jesus they pledge allegiance to is someone I do not recognize, and one not worth knowing. And I don’t get stares or suspicious glances or feel that people are looking at me as if I’m just like the one who stepped so far off the love path in the name of Jesus. You may think that such a thing does not happen to our neighbors across the street, but let me assure you that it does.

It is not fair for them to have to distance themselves from these hateful atrocities. We should not expect that of them. The lives they live in communion with all of us in this community are plenty statement enough. My hope and prayer is that with enough open hearts and minds, and in time, the majority of us in this dear country will realize that whatever name someone claims who does cowardly, hateful and violent things, they are actually doing it in the name of the evil one, and they will be seen as acting on their own misguided understanding, and not one shared by loving people of any faith.

#lovingourneighbors #faithfulMuslims #fairness #Bostonbombings

Self Radicalized

19 Apr

Boston strong. Those are two words we are hearing a lot as the tragedy of all those damaged and lost lives in Boston streams before our eyes and calls for the attention of our prayers. The spirit of a people are tested when all hell breaks loose, and the resolve of Bostonians to rise above the hatred and embrace the glory of life is a witness to us all of the potential in every human spirit.

So is the ugly turn of the lives of the brothers who unleashed hell on unprepared and innocent victims. That too is a witness to us all of the potential in every human spirit-including mine-and yours. From all accounts to this point, people who knew the Tsarnaev brothers would have given them their highest recommendation. The older brother, 26 year old Tamerlan, was a golden gloves boxer and a fine student. The 19 year old, Dzhokhar, was also an accomplished athlete and student. And both showed sterling character to those who thought they knew them best.

What went wrong? Two other words we are hearing a lot during the 24/7 reporting are “self radicalized”. It means that there was not an organized group that fostered this horrible turn of events, but that these two were motivated internally by an ideology, acted on their own initiative and independently together carried out their assault. Something inspired them to act, but acting was a conscious decision by each one that came from their own minds and hearts.

Hear me carefully. You and I as Jesus followers will best serve our Lord and his cause by being self radicalized. I don’t want to trivialize those two words or co-opt them to make a point. Like many other concepts this is one that first and best applies to those who follow Jesus and has been twisted in applying them to a horror such as this one.

The word radical means from the root. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine (root) and you are the branches. Those who remain in me (following me according to my way of love) will produce much fruit.” And the fruit of which our Lord speaks are the acts of love we unleash on the world that make our world a safer and more joyful place. To be self radicalized for Christ’s sake is for each of us, by the powerful inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to be motivated to live Jesus out and to make conscious decisions from our own minds and hearts that extend the love Jesus shows us to all who are in our sphere of influence. We are to show up and show out for Christ’s sake. Another way of saying all that is to download Jesus-Get it!, embrace our heartsong (that intersection between how we are wired and what God is up to in the world)-Got it!, and sing our heartsong out loud-Go! When we do the world changes as you and I self radicalize-as we show up and show out-for Christ’s sake.

When you and I walk into the Kingdom come and are met by Jesus and all those who got there before us, the Lord and his whole entourage will not want to hear about what you and I were up to during our time on this planet that went wrong. They will be eager to hear about what you and I unleashed for Christ’s sake. What they will want to hear about is what went right.

#Boston strong #self radicalized